Pep Guardiola has defended Manchester City’s failure to win the Champions League, pointing out that even sporting greats Jack Nicklaus and Michael Jordan lost more often than they won.
City will play Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter finals — with the first leg at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday — after reaching the last-eight for the sixth successive season, but they are yet to lift the trophy.
The closest City came was under Guardiola two years ago, when they made their only appearance, to date, in the final but lost 1-0 to Chelsea in Porto.
Guardiola won the Champions League twice during his time in charge of Barcelona and he accepts the expectation since he arrived in England has been that he will guide City to European glory, saying: “We want to try.
“It’s an honour to be here, against an elite club like Bayern Munich. We are happy to be here.
“You have to deserve it. Six, seven years ago when I arrived here — ‘you are here to win the Champions League’. It comes every season.
“We tried every season but there are teams you face who are good too, and they want to win it too.
“We want to try but that doesn’t mean we’re going to win. Jack Nicklaus, how many majors did he play in his career? 120? How many did he win? Eighteen — wow. He lost more than he won.
“Michael Jordan, the best athlete, won six NBA titles. How many years did he play? Sixteen? He lost more than he won. These games are so difficult. The important thing is to be here, compete well and do our best. If I lose, I lose. I’m not perfect.”
Praise for Tuchel
Bayern were coached by Julian Nagelsmann when the quarter final draw was made, but last month replaced their manager with Thomas Tuchel — who was in charge of Chelsea when they beat City in the final in 2021.
Tuchel has won two and lost one of his three games in charge of Bayern so far, but Guardiola insists he is more focused on his own side than anything his opponent may or may not have up hissleeve.
“Both are so creative with the shape of their formations and the shape they play,” Guardiola said when asked about the differences between Nagelsmann and Tuchel.
“We’ve seen the shape of Bayern Munich that Tuchel has played, but maybe tomorrow (Tuesday) he’s going to do something new. Always we try to figure it out.
“They have quality in all departments. It would have been difficult with Nagelsmann and it will be difficult with Tuchel.
“But at the same time, I don’t pay much attention to them and try to focus on our team.”
Bayern forward Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting will miss the game due to a knee injury, the Bundesliga leaders said on Monday.
Choupo-Moting, who is in his third season with Bayern after stints with Paris St Germain and Stoke City, is their top scorer this season with 17 goals in all competitions.
The 34-year-old also missed Bayern's 1-0 league victory over Freiburg on Saturday.
Written with inputs from Reuters